The Pittsburgh Steelers have been pretty active in free agency through the first few days of the official start of the new league season, yet despite breaking rank and going outside of their comfort zone, the Steelers’ moves are being viewed as just “average” from a national standpoint.
Gradign all 16 AFC teams and their free agency moves to date, Pro Football Focus came in right down the middle of the Steelers’ flurry of moves under General Manager Kevin Colbert, calling the Steelers’ nine signings (outside free agents and re-signings) “average,” joining the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North in that category.
For comparison’s sake, PFF gave the Cincinnati Bengals a “good” grade in free agency, and the Cleveland Browns an “above average” grade in free agency.
The free agency moves for the Steelers include signing QB Mitch Trubisky (two years, $14.25 million), iOL James Daniels (three years, $26.5 million), CB Levi Wallace (two years, $8 million), LB Myles Jack (two years, $16 million), iOL Mason Cole (three years, $15.75 million). Re-signed were CB Ahkello Witherspoon (two years), CB Arthur Maulet (two years), OT Chukwuma Okorafor (three years, $29.25 million), and DL Montravious Adams (one year, $5 million).
“Pittsburgh’s first day of free agency created cause for concern by re-signing Okorafor — who allowed 49 quarterback pressures and committing 16 penalties over two seasons — on an expensive three-year, $29.25 million deal and following that up by signing Trubisky to be the 2022 starting quarterback,” PFF’s Sam Monson and Brad Spielberger write. “The base value of Trubisky’s contract came in well below the speculated numbers, as his $14 million total over two years was exactly half of what the New Orleans Saints gave quarterback Jameis Winston; however, there are incentives that could push Trubisky’s compensation up to $27 million. Nonetheless, it’s an extremely reasonable deal for a bridge quarterback.
“As free agency progressed, Pittsburgh settled in and made a handful of notable signings. First, agreeing to terms on a three-year, $26.5 million deal with Daniels. He and Okorafor will both be just 25 years old for the duration of the 2022 season, so there is a lot of potential on the right side of this line,” PFF added. “Next, bringing aboard Wallace — a perfect fit in Pittsburgh’s zone-heavy scheme — on a two-year, $8 million deal has the potential for great value. Last but not least, the Steelers swapped out Schobert for Jack to play opposite 2019 first-round pick linebacker Devin Bush. The Steelers rarely spend on external free agents, but when they do, they’ve had a strong track record over the years.”
It’s easy to understand the thought process regarding the signing of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as the next quarterback in Pittsburgh post-Ben Roethlisberger. He flamed out in Chicago, then spent one season in Buffalo playing less than 50 snaps and turned that into a sizable deal in free agency. Though it certainly raised some eyebrows, Trubisky — at least on paper — looks like a solid fit in Matt Canada’s offense.
As for the re-signing of Okorafor, it’s hard to fault it. He’s just 24 years old, and the salary he received is the going rate for a deficient tackle position in the NFL in today’s game. Though he’s had his fair share of struggles at left and right tackle in the NFL, he’s still a developing player, on that the Steelers have invested heavily in.
Daniels and Cole bring veteran leadership and experience to a young offensive line, while Wallace realistically replaces what Joe Haden provided as a sound tackler and run defender at cornerback overall.
The Steelers didn’t make the “splashy moves” aside from maybe the signing of Myles Jack due to him being a big-name player, but their offseason hardly screams “average” as Pro Football Focus has graded it to date.